Born and bred in Queensland, sustainability king and EarthCheck CEO, Stewart Moore, has some clear favourites when it comes to sleeping a lighter shade of green in his home state.
In the lead up to World Environment Day on June 5, here are 10 Queensland properties he says offers travellers all the (eco-friendly) fun without the carbon footprint.
1. Emporium Hotel, Brisbane
Emporium Hotel is proof that inner-city properties that dare to dance with the hipster crowd can still win awards – and green hearts – at the same time.
This Fortitude Valley hotel, known for its tango red foyer just footsteps from a thriving entertainment precinct, has scooped ‘best boutique hotel in Australia’ more times than you can count on one hand, and all without dropping its EarthCheck certification crown.
The hotel prides itself on purchasing local and organic foods. But the big buzz is the working herb garden and the rooftop beehives that churn out super fresh ingredients – some of which go into the hotel’s signature cocktail, the Lavender Honey Sour.
2. Lady Elliot Island, Southern Great Barrier Reef
The story of this tiny freckle at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef is the story of an environmental phoenix that has risen from a pile of poo! Literally. Once stripped bare for its prized haul of guano, Lady Elliot Island today supports thousands of nesting boobies and terns whose colours and chatter match the underwater magic.
Located 80km east of the mainland, travellers can step off the shore and snorkel around magnificent coral cays with giant loggerhead turtles, knowing their flippers will hardly make an imprint.
Owner and environmental warrior, Peter Gash, has built hybrid solar power stations to replace diesel, created a climate change walk to educate guests about the reef, uses grey water for irrigation and bans the use of disposable water bottles.
3. Nightfall Wilderness Camp, Lamington National Park
Want to generate zero carbon points on your next holiday? Then book in with nightfall camp, an off-the-beaten-track glamping experience tucked away in the pocket of the Lost World paradise, 90 minutes south west of Brisbane.
Guests get to join the owners as they forage for produce, sample local organic food and learn about the camp’s environmental practices, including the onsite waste water treatment and the solar power system.
Behind the scenes, Nightfall owners have put their green thumbs to good use regenerating damaged forest with native plants.
4. Thala Beach Lodge, Port Douglas
Smack in the midst of two World Heritage-listed areas – The Great Barrier Reef and the world’s oldest rainforest – sits Thala Beach Nature Reserve, a collection of low-impact bungalows surrounded by 145 acres of private bushland.
Formerly an unsustainable sugar cane plantation, the owners of this retreat have earned their green stripes over the last three decades by rehabilitating the peninsula with thousands of Indigenous plants and creating a beacon of hope for other demolished areas.
Wildlife specialists guide guests through the forest and collaborate with local Indigenous elders to enhance cultural understanding of Australia’s first people.
5. Hidden Valley Cabins, Paluma Range
No matter how you look at it, Australia’s first carbon-neutral resort, Hidden Valley Cabins in the Paluma Range pays homage to the natural environment.
Cabins are built largely from recycled or selectively logged local timber (including the rustic furniture in the rooms) and the number one activity is sunset tours to spot the elusive platypus. Anyone into solar is welcome to tour the resort’s own solar central.
6. Scenic Rim Trail, Southern Queensland Country
This isn’t so much about the luxury tented accommodation that you start with, nor the impressive lodge that serves up local organic food where you end up, this eco-getaway is about a multi-day walk through the stunning Main Range National Park.
Spend two nights camping at Spicers Canopy and enjoy all meals and drinks including the special seven-course degustation dinner at Spicers Peak Lodge. Best yet, it’s all local!
7. Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat, Sunshine Coast
Imagine six self-contained pavilions snuggled next to a sub-tropical rainforest right on the doorstep of one of Australia’s greatest walks.
Sustainability at Narrows Escape is more than the facilities and the training, owners Mark and Joanne Skinner are huge advocates for local produce and proudly support the community in which they live – from the delivery of three-course meals from surrounding nosheries to the supply of local fruit and dairy delicacies for breakfast.
8. Bungalow Bay Koala Village, Magnetic Island
There are bush camps – and then there are bush camps that operate on photovoltaic power systems to fire up the evening pizza. Bungalow Bay Koala Village on stunning Magnetic Island is an eco-tourism accredited backpacker resort that also has 25 private bungalows for a bit more comfort.
Buildings are eco-friendly (think high ceilings and no walls to capture the tropical breezes) and the team behind the joint are known for their daring animal rescues, land regeneration, and bush tours that offer an insight into the wonder of the environment.
9. Silky Oaks Lodge, Mossman
If you have to pick one Queensland example that being green doesn’t mean going back to basics, then Silky Oaks is it. This elegant resort sits under the cool canopy of the world’s oldest rainforest and engenders hushed tones of awe from the outset.
Overlooking the Mossman River, it offers guided walks through the adjoining rainforest, swims in the Mossman River, free morning yoga in the open-air Daintree Pavilion and the Healing Waters Spa Treatments inspired by Indigenous treatments.
10. Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island
Queensland’s original eco getaway, Kingfisher Bay Resort blazed the trail in sustainability when it rolled out the green welcome mat on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island way back in 1992.
The rooms may be modern hideaways, but it is here that nature-based learnings come with old-fashioned adventures. Take a beauty spot tours of the seven must-see locations or join a private ranger guided tour to hunt out bush tucker and learn some crucial survival tips.